X HISTORICAL SKETCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE.
Catholic camp." As an instance of individual suffering, an imperial senator, Nicetas,
an eye-witness, details what he himself endured. His palace being reduced to ashes,
he fled for refuge to an obscure house in the suburbs of the town. Here he concealed
himself, guarded by a friendly Venetian in disguise, till an opportunity occurred of saving
his own life, and the chastity of his daughter, from the ferocious crusaders who were
pillaging the city. On a winter's night, with his wife and tender child, carrying all
they possessed on their shoulders, they fled for life; and, in order to disguise their rank
and features, smeared their clothes and faces with mud; nor could they rest a moment,
from their pursuers, till they reached a distance of forty miles from the capital. On their
road, they overtook the venerable Greek patriarch, the head of the Christian church in
the East, flying also for his life, mounted on an ass, and almost naked. Nicetas afterwards lived to instruct and inform the world, by his important history of these events.
Meantime the captors glutted, without restraint, every passion. They burst into the
church of Santa Sophia, and other sacred edifices, which they defiled in the most wanton
manner. They converted sacred chalices into drinking-cups, and trampled under foot the
most venerable objects of Christian worship. In the cathedral, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn to pieces for the sake of the fringe, and the finest monuments of pious art
broken up for their material. It would be too revolting to detail all the particulars of
these impious outrages; let one suffice. They placed on the throne of the patriarch
a harlot, who sang and danced in the church, to ridicule the hymns and processions
of the Oriental Christian worship.
In those excesses it was that this noble city suffered its first dilapidation. The monuments of ancient art, collected from all parts of the world, were defaced and broken to
pieces, not simply from a bigoted rage against any superstition different from their own,
but from a crusade of ignorance against whatever bore the stamp of literature and science.
A contemporary writer details particular specimens of art that were wantonly broken and
destroyed; and the present denuded state of the city attests that the deeds of those
barbarians were as destructive as those of the equally ignorant Turks. Their utter contempt for learning was displayed in various ways: in riding through the streets, they
clothed themselves and their horses in painted robes and flowing head-dresses of linen,
and displayed on them pens, ink, and paper, in ridicule of the people who used
such worthless things. It was therefore no exaggeration when the Greeks called them
Aypafxfiarot Kat avaktyapEToi Bappapoi, c; Barbarians who could neither read nor write, who
did not even know their alphabet."
The Latins, who had thus seized on the capital, usurped the whole of the Grecian
territories, and divided it among themselves. Five sovereigns, of the western invaders,
occupied the throne in succession, till it descended to Baldwin. Michael Palaeologus
was destined to restore the ancient and rightful dynasty. In the year 1261, Alexius, a
noble Greek, who was dignified with the name of Caesar, commanded a body of troops in
his service. He crossed the Hellespont into Europe, and advanced cautiously under the
walls of the city. There was a body of hardy peasantry, at that time cultivating the
lands of Thrace, of very doubtful allegiance. They were called volunteers, for they gave